The State -v- Achilles James Peni (2013)

On the 5th of December, 2013, Achilles James Peni was convicted by the National Court of misappropriating property, namely K2.7 million belonging to the Autonomous Bougainville Government between the dates of 1st Dec 2008 and 31st Dec 2009.

The National Court alleges that this criminal act was concocted and organised by the regional member for Bougainville, Fidelis Semoso, who is said to have benefited to the tune of K470,000.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government subsequently appointed Semoso Minister for Economic Development.

Given this is a cash-strapped region, rebuilding after a decade long war that decimated infrastructure and took up to 20,000 lives – stealing much needed grant funds, damages the peace process, regional stability and the future aspirations of Bougainville’s youth generation.

That one of the alleged ring-leaders was rewarded by the Autonomous Bougainville Government with a Ministerial post, is a worrying indication of systemic governance challenges as the island approaches an independence referendum.